Silver Summers is what we describe here at QX as “a one.” She knows the city like the back of her makeup mirror, and ever since she moved here from bonnie Scotland, she’s DJ’d, death-dropped and dazzled her way through every den of debauchery from Stockwell to Stanmore.
Whether she’s careening down Old Compton Street in an Uber Exec at 5am, knocking back tequila in someone’s kitchen at 7pm, or gluing sequins onto a corset on the dancefloor at A:M, Silver is one of the city’s most prodigious and prolific queens. She really does beggar belief.
Now, she’s taking her annual talent show The Q Factor, to the jewel in Soho’s camp old crown, Ku Bar! It’s the perfect, glittering backdrop to what promises to be an exciting, diverse and riveting talent-spotting show.
To coincide with its launch THIS WEEK, we did a shoot with Silver in the middle of Piccadilly Circus. Why? Well, why not. Also, after a difficult and insane couple of weeks for London, and to mark a year since the Orlando attack, we want to show how it’s still possible to be unapologetic, defiant (and insane), right in the centre of London. And where better to prove that, than Piccadilly Circus.
In between avoiding bemused tourists and high-fiving armed police, Dylan Jones spoke to Silver about the competition, her favourite flavour of crisp, and what she’s all about.
Hey Silver! For those who don’t know you, describe yourself in one camp sentence.
Don’t be silly! Everyone knows me now, because I was recently made relevant through my very camp row with the fabulous Myra DuBois. Oh alright then. I’m a drag chanteuse, famous for being the #oldestmember of two drag girl bands, which was documented on the TV show ‘Drag Queens Of London’. It showed me touring the globe, singing and being trashy whilst coming up with the most celebrated cuss from any show ever #fatowl.
That was more than one sentence, but OK! Tell us about your relationship with drag.
Drag is my job and I love it! I love the freedom it affords me as a performer. When I performed before, I never felt I could really give it my all. But through living this character, I have actually grown more as an artist. Ironically, being a drag performer takes a lot of balls!
I do and I don’t. It’s like I share my bedroom and myself with a girl. You need double the closet space! Silver only comes out when I go to work, so in many ways she is my work uniform. When someone puts on their suit for the office or their nametag to work in customer service, they assume a roll. We all enter into certain rules in our workplaces that require us to conform and submit, even when you’re self-employed. As a performer, we get more freedom to express ourselves. But when you’re playing a character, the water gets muddy. It’s hard to know where your persona ends and the character begins. I like there to be a definite physical change, and in many ways being Silver has made me more in touch with my masculinity when I’m Bobby. I’m not saying I suddenly become butch, but there’s definitely a refrain within my subconscious when I’m Bobby, because I get to exercise such extreme femininity as Silver.
Will the Buffalo Girls ever reform?
If you could live ANYWHERE in the world other than London, where would it be?
I am still absolutely in love with London after 16 years living here, but I’d live in San Francisco when I’m older. I want to be an old screaming drama queen like Albert Goldman from The Birdcage. Still fabulous, but with less self-awareness. Definitely married and medicated.
What do you think of the gay scene right now?
Well, in London I think it’s as exciting as it is depressing. Yes, we’ve lost a lot of places, so it brings you down. But we’ve had new gems like The Glory, Her Upstairs and Bloc South to shimmy and shake in, so it’s not all bad. I love the diversity on the scene, but I also think there’s not enough solidarity. Certain venues get very cliquey and insular, and whilst they may talk about being inclusive and brag about diversity, is that just the diversity of your borough or clique? I like the competitive nature of gay venues here, but I just think we could all work together more, and cross promote in order to help one another survive.
Who’s your favourite drag performer on the scene?
My pal Vanity! I’m so proud of her Sunday nights at the Phoenix. She’s a talented queen, who has shown what hard work and perseverance can achieve. If only she was anywhere near as good a friend or a person really. She is a truly awful human being, who only really cares about herself…oh and Lady Camp, Celine Dion and Delta Goodrem. Oh and maybe Maggie Smith…and Wendy Williams and Nicole Sherzinger…and Nicole Kidman, Jenifer Lopez and Sarah Brightman….oh, fine, she loves everyone! What a saint!
Who’s, like, your favourite person in the world?
I can’t possibly get into it with family and friends because that’s ridiculous, so I will simply say Mariah for OBVIOUS reasons.
More importantly, what’s your favourite flavour of crisp?
OMG crisps are my favourite snack. My Mum was obsessed with Quavers when she was preggers with me and they have always been a fave. But I live for M&S Sour cream and Jalapeño combo mix! Wotsits and Monster munch are always welcome too! God I love crisps! #saltandvinegarsquares
What’s your favourite gross hangover food?
Mac and cheese or Pizza. Cream cakes, Calippo and Haribo after. Then more crisps, Coke Zero and sugarfree red bull. And highland spring water…lots.
What are you watching on Netflix right now?
Schitt’s Creek is my new fave! I just got through all three series – it’s absolutely ridiculous but so funny! I am also trying so hard not to watch all of Sense 8 season two so quickly because then it’ll be gone and I will be all alone. Can’t wait for season two of The OA!
What’s your favourite dinosaur from Jurassic Park?
It’s Rexy. She is the female T-Rex from the first Jurassic park who broke out of the compound and made her way into Jurassic World for that epic battle at the end!!! She is actually my favourite person in the world if I’m honest. Don’t say she isn’t a person!
Apparently the new Jurassic Park movie is set in London! Are you in it?
I don’t wanna talk about it. I tried. If I find out anyone I know was an extra in it I will never speak to them again. Unless they get tickets to the premiere. Then after that I won’t speak to them ever again.
What song do you play the most while you’re getting ready?
Currently it’s Your Song by Rita Ora, Down by Fifth Harmony, and Best Behaviour by Louisa Johnson on heavy repeat, but of all time it’s All Fired Up by The Saturdays, coz I want to make the party…super naughty! Duh!
If you could shag anyone in the world, who would it be?
Orgy with Henry Cavill, Colin Farrell, Ryan Reynolds and Jamie Dornan. #5some #dead
Tell us what your dream house would look like if you had unlimited money.
A luxury treehouse way up in the sky. It would have a recording studio, heated pool, spa, restaurant, cabaret bar and mini zoo for rescued animals in adjoining trees via little rope bridges. All mine. Thanks.
And tell us about what your dream party would be inside it! Who would be there, who would be performing, what food would be there etc.
Well, all my besties and family… Mariah would be supported by Incubus, Spice Girls, Hoobastank, The Saturdays and Steps. Gordon Ramsay would be doing the catering as I would be really busy with my orgy in the spa whilst everyone else would have to try not to get too wasted incase they fell out of a tree.
Do you think it’s important for us to be defiant and visible right now?
It’s very important and it always will be, as long as there are Trumps and Theresas around! Unfortunately, we’re a long way from where we need to be. I had glass bottles thrown at me by homophobes on my walk from Freedom to Bombshell the other week. I was going from one workplace to another on Old Compton street at 1am. If that’s not proof that we have a long way to go then I don’t know what is!
Tell us about The Q Factor!
When I was at school, I was different. I didn’t want to play football or anything that was considered ‘normal’ for a wee boy in Glasgow. Instead, I would paint or sing. I was persecuted for this. Bullied every single day of my life for not fitting in. Back then, the thing about me that made me stand out was my Queer factor. Now, in my adult life, I still encounter this. But it no longer holds me back, for I have embraced it! It’s now my super power…my Q Factor. So the Queer Factor is that light inside you that makes you stand out from the crowd, and KU Bar wants to celebrate it! Being Queer is not about race, gender, sexuality or any of the other boxes we are put into. It’s about releasing your inhibitions and embracing your Q factor, and we’re here to embrace it with you!
What are you looking for most in contestants?
We’re asking entrants to use their voices. So this is their chance to put down the hairbrush and pick up a mic. What better way is there to unleash your queer power than through music? Throughout history, if there’s one thing that’s universally united us, it’s MUSIC!
Do you have any advice for people entering?
We’re looking for soloists and groups to audition on the 14th and 21st of June in front of some of the most diverse and fabulous queer judges we could find, live at KU! The main judging panel will be Vanity Von Glow, Munroe Bergdorf, Sadie Sinner and Jacqui Swallows who will be offering their experience and advice. We’ll also be switching it up every week with guest judges Nieko Strobel, Mzz Kimberley, Holestar, Louis Cyfer, Virgin Xtravaganzah, Asifa lahore, Dylan Jones, Sammi, Raven Mandella, Kat Kasisopa, Fat Tony and more! And we’re working with impulse London on a Q Factor blog, to encourage people to open up on their own personal queer journeys. There will also be a Queer factor panel for Mosaic LGBT Youth Centre, where these young people will get the opportunity to pick the brains of our Q Factor host, judges and contestants. The Q Factor will not be a popularity contest. This is about supporting and encouraging upcoming artists, so we ask people to be themselves. Because we wont be judging anything other than their talent!